After yesterday’s 1-0 victory over Chicago Fire, Philadelphia Union have booked a ticket to the final of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup for the second straight year. And, with Sporting Kansas City‘s win over Real Salt Lake, Philadelphia will once again host the tournament championship game.
In a 74th minute momentum shifter, Philadelphia’s Sebastien Le Toux netted the lone goal of the match, becoming the all-time leading scorer in the modern era of the U.S. Open Cup (1995-present). Le Toux dribbled to the center of the field and ripped a shot in the right corner of the net that went by Chicago’s goalkeeper Sean Johnson resulting in an erupting crowd at PPL Park.
“I kind of touched the ball through the legs of one defender which was very lucky again and I just took another touch and saw an opening,” said Le Toux. “It went to my left which is not my best foot but I took a crack at it and luckily it went in. The keeper was great all night. He saved lots of big shots from us but mine, which was not the prettiest one, went in. I’m going to take it and I’m just happy that we won tonight.”
Though Le Toux scored the game winner for the Union, Cristian Maidana was a threat all night against Chicago. He started the game as central midfielder and roamed throughout the field placing himself in dangerous positions throughout. In the 24th minute, Maidana kicked a long range shot that appeared to be the go-ahead goal for the Union, but it bounced off of Chicago’s goalkeeper near CJ Sapong who, with a tough angle, failed to finish. Minutes later, Sapong was in position to score again but his backheel shot proved to be easily handled by Chicago.
In the second half, Chicago saw their best chance of the night. Ten minutes after Le Toux’s goal, Chicago’s Kenny Igboananike attempted a bicycle kick from point blank range to the far corner, but John McCarthy was there to keep the Union in front and send them to the finals.
Post game, Union head coach Jim Curtin was delighted by the atmosphere at PPL: “First off,” said Curtin, “I would like to thank the fans, especially, at the River End. They were very loud. When you get into the 85th minute and the guys are fatigued a bit and you start to hear the ‘we want the cup chants,’ it pushes them on so credit to all the fans that came out. I thought it was a great environment. I thought our guys had a real professional performance on the night at home.”
In the other semifinal game, Kansas City defeated Real Salt Lake 3-1, meaning that Philadelphia will host the final at PPL Park on September 30th. Philadelphia has appeared in three of the last four US Open Cup semifinals but have yet to win the trophy, and last year’s 3-1 loss to Seattle Sounders FC in the final match remains a painful memory. The Union have unfinished business and hope that this is their year to win it all.
“We want to be the first ones to win a trophy for this team and I think when we look back at our careers and the story of this club we can say hey we were the first ones to win a trophy,” Le Toux said. “I think it’s big for our history and a huge reward for the fans, employees and all the people who are invested in this franchise who want to bring soccer in Philadelphia. It just kind of makes people happy and it’s what we want as players to have everybody behind you and I hope we will bring even more enthusiasm in this sport and lots of people will come back to PPL Park to support the team.”